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Special Districts Use Technology to Cope with Evolving Demands

 

Welcome to the latest issue of The Districts, where we chronicle the people, issues and activities impacting special districts across the U.S.

News Staff / July 31, 2020

Welcome to the latest issue of The Districts, where we chronicle the people, issues and activities impacting special districts across the U.S. Check out how a fast-growing Florida energy district is using mobile technology, digital workflows and smart integration to cope with multiplying demands. Our latest special districts focus brief features the Lake Apopka Natural Gas District, which serves about 25,000 residents in central Florida and is adding 1,700 customers annually. We talked to Information Systems Director Scott Minter about a wide range of topics, including new tech tools that make field crews more efficient and the recent shift to remote work for most of the district’s office staff.

“We use technology to serve our customers better while keeping our costs as low as possible,” says Minter. “These tools let us handle more and more customers without adding an army of people.”

Read more of Lake Apopka’s story in the new focus brief – it’s part of a series we’ll publish throughout 2020 to highlight how districts in important program areas use technology to strengthen resiliency, boost efficiency and improve customer experience. You’ll also find briefs featuring the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

Navigate Uncertainty and Prepare for What’s Next

Make your plans now to join us for Special Districts Virtual Summit West on Aug. 25. This interactive virtual summit will reveal insights from the initial pandemic response and help special district leaders prepare for what comes next. We’ll break down how things have changed, share lessons from the field, and explore tools and tactics special district leaders – from airports, utilities, transportation, parks, ports, libraries, fire, housing and more – can use to keep up with evolving demands.

Tell Us Your Story

Don’t forget to submit your nomination for a 2020 Special Districts Innovation Award. This year we’re showcasing technologies and leadership related to COVID-19 response and recovery efforts – and we want to hear your story. Submissions are due by Sept. 25. Choose from three award categories:

Technology innovation: Citizens — Making services available online, sharing new information, deploying new engagement tools, etc.

Technology Innovation: Operations — Deploying remote work initiatives, reengineering business processes, enhancing security, etc.

Technology Innovation: Leadership — Recognizes special district officials who have led innovative and bold responses to COVID-19

District Spotlight: Libraries Step Up

Capital Metro, the public transit district in Austin, Texas, will become lead agency for the city’s bike-share program this fall, marking the district’s transition from transit provider to mobility service, according to its leaders.

“We really wanted the community to start seeing the bike-share program in Austin as just another offering of the transit agency,” said Chad Ballentine, vice president for Demand Response and Innovative Mobility at Capital Metro, in a recent webinar.

Austin owns a fleet of roughly 500 standard bikes and 200 e-bikes. The city has partnered with a local nonprofit to operate the bike-share system since 2013. The new agreement creates a partnership among the city, the nonprofit and Capital Metro to place the bike-share operation within the transit district’s system. As part of the shift, the bike-share service, rebranded MetroBike, will be integrated into Capital Metro’s app payment system.

Local officials see the change as a step toward a more integrated transportation ecosystem, where riders can move seamlessly from one mode to another.

Read the full story.

More Articles Worth a Read

Here are more stories from special districts around the country. Share your own news with us for inclusion in the next newsletter.

The California Air Resources Board approved an aggressive regulation to spur the adoption of electric trucks and buses. Under the ground-breaking new rules, all heavy duty trucks sold in the state must be zero-emission by 2045.

Transit operators in Marin County, Calif., will make their services available on the Uber app, giving ride-hailing users more transit options. The partnership hopes to increase first-mile and last-mile options.

New Jersey Transit is the latest agency to experiment with ultra-violet light to sanitize equipment from the coronavirus. The organization will work with Rutgers University to study effectiveness of UV light to disinfect bus interiors.



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